It Was a Very Very Very Fine House

I was Pinteresting long before there was a Pinterest. I was way ahead of my time back in 1976, running barefoot in my calico sundress to the mailbox each day hoping to find the catalogs. All catalogs were good, but the two greats – JC Penney and Service Merchandise, were the ones worth waiting for.

I would sit for hours, planning. I always started at the back. I would plan my life, one slick page at a time. Curtains. Slipcovers. Grandfather clocks. Wedding bands. Coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, outerwear and Quinceañera gowns. (I had no idea what Quinceañera gowns were, but I knew they were awesome.)

The height of my catalog fantasy madness came in the third grade, when I lied to my mother and told her I needed her to buy a House Beautiful magazine. I said I needed it for a school art project (for which I fake gave myself an A.) I created my actual dream home from that magazine and my beloved catalogs. I carefully cut and pasted photos of what my house would look like, from the outside to the inside, into a spiral notebook. I drew an actual floor plan. I was obsessed with a yellow two-story traditional with a fountain in the front yard. It was 1978, and my pre-Pinterest “For The Home” board was full.

Why, when most girls were playing jump rope, was I mentally registering for my trousseau? Why, when some girls were fantasizing about Shawn Cassidy, was I fantasizing about recliners and flatware? I credit my sisters with this. My sisters, who are ten, seventeen and eighteen years older than me, were in the midst of being engaged or married during my entire childhood. While most kids had Dr. Seuss books scattered around the house, I had Seventeen or Modern Bride magazines to read. My sisters were, are, my role models. I adored them in their prom and wedding dresses, and in their apartments, and in their homes.

I became an old soul in the world of housewarming parties, with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young filling me with dreams of Our House. I consider myself incredibly blessed, as some of my friends were struggling with their own homes falling apart due to divorce. I was afforded the opportunity to dream.

Many homes came after the yellow traditional. There was the barn-house and then the log cabin. There was the beach house and the Victorian. And last week, I was thinking about what couch would go best in my imaginary industrial loft while perusing the new Crate and Barrel catalog. From the back, of course. Some things never change.

One thought on “It Was a Very Very Very Fine House

  1. Thank you for the smile. I remember doing the same, complete with floor plans! When everything was right, I would write a story around them. Except I went the traditional front-to-back through the catalogs.

    Only a few years ago Freedom Furniture used to do the best catalogs – each page told a different story in pictures, of beautiful tableclothes, ceramic-wear, vases, couches, dining tables. You could only get them in-store, so I would go in when a new one came out every six months. One year I went in and they gave me this pathetic little booklet and I was disappointed, because they’d stopped printing their book-like catalog.

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